vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Lady, in cement

You won't find Carole Lombard's handprints and footprints if you go to the famed Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard -- but, believe it or not, there was a place where Carole's impressions were made in cement (and, unfortunately, it's apparently in the past tense).

It was on the South Side of Chicago, not far from the neighborhood where musician Nat "King" Cole grew up. Specifically, it was in the lobby of the Rhodes Theater on East 79th Street. Boxoffice magazine ran a story about the celebrity prints in its March 7, 1942 issue:

The Rhodes seated about 1,400, slightly larger than average for a neighborhood house, and was part of the Warners chain. It opened in November 1937, and was an attractive venue.

Among those celebs with footprints or handprints at the Rhodes when it began were Humphrey Bogart, Pat O'Brien and Henry Fonda. It's not known whether Lombard was among the initial group, but she might have since Warners had just signed her to a contract, the one that both sides soon scrapped after the debacle that was "Fools For Scandal." (Note that she and most of the others did not journey to Chicago for any sort of ceremony; rather, the work was done in Los Angeles and the block -- 20 by 20 inches, 3 1/2 inches deep and 95 pounds in weight -- was delivered to the theater.)

There were 30 square spaces for star hand and footprints, and some were replaced with other stars over the years. I have no idea whether Lombard's was removed, or even what happened to it -- because the Rhodes is no longer with us, a victim of urban decay and diminished interest in neighborhood movie houses. By the mid-1980s, it was a second-run house, and it closed shortly thereafter.

Here's what the theater looked like in August 1990, soon before its demolition:

Apparently no one in the Chicago media was aware of the star cement impressions that had once been the theater's signature.

At last report, the site, on East 79th Street and Rhodes Avenue, was still an empty lot.

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